The BioRhythm product was developed by capstone design students to help sort plastics into trash, recycling and compost at large events.
Engineering seniors and graduate students put their skills to the test through capstone design projects. In most cases, mechanical engineering teams are sponsored by industry partners or pitch their ideas to investors. Follow capstone design teams through our series of Capstone Design Q&As to learn how students are using engineering to solve real-world problems.
Team members from left to right: Photios Kyriazi, Avi Elkin, Zayna Pieper, Samuel Nesmith, Dylan States, Blayne Robinson
What problem does your project solve?
Plastics comprise 23% of the total waste generated in the United States resulting in over 35 million tons of plastic waste. However, less than a tenth of that plastic is recycled or composted each year. BioRhythm has completed the first portion of a year-long senior design capstone course to address this problem. Although there are a variety of techniques by which excessive amounts of land-filled plastic could be addressed, based on a series of user interviews the team has made it their goal to develop a system which would increase sorting accuracy of plastics into trash, recycling and compost to be used by attendees at large events such as festivals and conferences. A user would simply walk up to the product, place their plastic on to the designated ring and place their plastic in the appropriate bin as indicated by a bright and colorful light.
What have you and your capstone design team accomplished that you are proud of?
Our team has successfully designed a PCB, which is in the realm of an electrical engineer. It has been exciting to explore new areas of engineering in this course in addition to applying our mechanical engineering backgrounds to our solution.
What have you learned from this project?
There are a lot of aspects that come into creating a working project including project management, procurement, scheduling, budgeting and communicating. Over the course of the project, we have expanded our knowledge in these areas. Additionally, we have learned a large number of electrical engineering design principles as we explore our products.
What are you most excited to share about your project?
We are most excited to show the intentionality with which the product has been constructed. The end-user has been a part of our design process from the very beginning when we began with user interviews. Showing others how easy it is to use will be exciting.
What advice do you have for future capstone design teams?
Scope your project properly. As a project manager, it is your job to make sure you make promises you can deliver on and to take care your team. Both are important!